Saturday, December 31, 2005

Friday, December 30, 2005

Leather Album Option for 2006

Leather albums usually cost a lot more than vinyl albums... but not now! For 2006, I have a new option for my clients... choose between a 25 page (50 sides) vinyl album with removable pages or a 24 page (48 sides) deluxe library bound leather album for the same price!

The top photo is the leather album. Physically, it's slightly smaller than the removable page version because it does not need the flexible hinge section of the removable page and of course, it's one page less. The next two photos are of the removable page vinyl album. The key thing to note is that the library bound album is perfectly edged on all sides of the pages whereas the removable page album is not.

For years, I have been offering the removable page album and many have been very satisfied with it. But for 2006, an opportunity came up to offer the leather library bound album at the same price! So, you now have a choice.

The benefits of the removable page album is that you can always replace a page in the event of something spilling into your album and ruining the page. You can't do that with the library bound leather album. But in all these years, nobody's ever had to order a page from me because of this scenario. So, I suppose most people are very careful before viewing their albums (as they should be!)

The benefits of the library bound leather album is a more compact design, real leather, and a smooth look on all edges of the book.

By the way, the most popular option is shown above... black leather with a 4" square cutout on the cover and silver edged pages. Very cool and contemporary!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Want to ride in style? Here are some examples of the unique.

1. Horse & Carriage... elegant and classic.

2. Rolls Royce - Grey Poupon mustard comes immediately to mind. I believe the driver actually had a jar on the dashboard of this one.

3. Stretch Hummer - VERY COOL vehicle. This one was really decked out inside...

4. 1946 Ford Woody - This was a friend of the groom's personal vehicle. A throw back in time...

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A "Knight" To Remember

"OK... which one of these guys is really the Knight in Shining Armor?"

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas - A day in advance!

I thought I'd say "Merry Christmas" a day in advance since I know I'll be spending time with family all day tomorrow and won't get a chance to post it on Christmas Day.

And to my Jewish friends, "Happy Hanukah"!

Have a great holiday everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Argus C3 Camera

The Argus C3 was made from 1939-1958 and is affectionately nicknamed "The Brick." That's because it weighs like a brick and is built like one too!

The one pictured above was my dad's and when I was a kid, I'd take that camera and my Kodak Brownie Bullet camera and run around the house taking "fake pictures" (no film) all the time. Now I run around the house and take digital pictures of my family all the time. Drives them crazy! :)

I still have the C3 pictured above. It had it's own flash unit, but that has since been lost. The C3 is a "Rangefinder" 35mm camera. It does not have a mirror system like a single lens reflex camera but rather focuses by looking through one of the two viewfinders and adjusting the lens so that the split image lined up on the top half of the image with the bottom half. It's a great camera and lots of people had one back in it's day...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Kodak Brownie Cameras

Kodak Brownie Cameras have been a part of camera history since 1900 and is quite varied. Often you'll hear people say, "I had a Kodak Brownie when I grew up!" But most people don't know that the Brownie Cameras had a lot of different models over the years!

My original Kodak Brownie was a Brownie Bullet model and is the last one pictured above. My camera was probably made around 1963 and 1964. But the one on the top was made between 1915 and 1926. It's a folding camera named the Vest Pocket Autographic Number 2.

Other models were simply a light-tight box with a shutter. And as it approached the 1940's, reflex models became popular (viewfinders were above the cameras and you looked down into the camera's reflex mirror).

Since my first post on October 19th about my old Kodak Brownie Bullet Camera, I went a little crazy and purchased all these cameras you see pictured above. Yes, I've started quite a collection of Kodak Brownie Cameras! It just made sense to do this as it really does show the history of American cameras and it's really not that expensive to buy! Most of these can be purchased from as low as $5 to $35 per camera! And they all work too!

To learn more about the history of Kodak Brownie Cameras, check out this site:

You'd better buy yours quick before I buy them all up!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Mariachi Bands

I LOVE Mariachi Bands!

Back when I was shooting in San Diego, I'd see Mariachi bands all the time. It was almost expected! But here in the Chicago area, it only happens every now and then.

These guys are great. They get everybody in the mood for the festivities to come. It always amazes me that they can play acoustically and sing without microphones, yet you hear them throughout the hall.

And I absolutely love the acoustic bass that they use. Have you seen this? It's one huge guitar body on that thing! Where do they buy this? I've been to a lot of music stores in my time, but I've never seen this thing sold. Must be sold only at specialty shops that cater to Mariachi band members!

This fellow was photographed at a recent wedding in 2005. Typically the bands consist of the bass player, a guitar or two, at least one trumpet player (or more), some violins and sometimes an accordian player. They all share in the vocal responsibilities. Without microphones, they can wander around while playing and singing. It's great!

Friday, December 16, 2005

"Backdrops? We don't need no stinking backdrops!"

Here is a shot from a recent wedding. I think it's much more dynamic than shooting with a backdrop and studio lights!

Although I have the ability to bring backdrops and studio lights with me, I often tell my clients not to do it. Why? Because I'd rather use the natural settings of the reception hall to tell the story of where you had your reception. And, those backdrop shots just make it look like something you did at a local Sears or JC Penny!

This shot was taken at Meridian banquet hall in Rolling Meadows. It features a great natural backdrop! Don't ask me what it is that the bride is standing in front of. I have no clue what it's called! It's not a fountain, but sure looks like one. :)

By the way, what western movie was the famous line, "We don't need badges!" taken from? Everyone thinks the line is, "Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!" But that's not the actual line from the movie!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Posting More During Winter Break

Since I have finished the last of my 2005 weddings, I might be posting a little more often. Mondays and Thursdays will be my main posting days, but as things occur to me, I may fill in with more posts between those days.

What will I be doing during my "Winter Break?"

Well, I'll be very busy this season. As usual, I'll continue meeting with new brides and grooms setting up 2006's wedding schedule. I've been very busy doing this lately. No complaints at all though! :) 2006 should be a great year for me.

Also, I'll be doing a lot of music recording. It seems other professional wedding photographers are in need of some good instrumental recordings to use on their DVD slideshow presentations. Many have encouraged me to compose and record some original material for their use (for my use too!) So, I'll be working on that a lot.

Lastly, I'll be testing out the new Nikon D200 cameras getting ready for the 2006 wedding season. Practice makes perfect!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Simple Can Be Better

Wow... two posts on the same day! A bonus! :)

Sometimes simple things can make a strong statement. I shot this simple image with my Fuji S3 while waiting for a bunch of fellow wedding photographers to show up at our quarterly dinner meeting to discuss our work. We help each other out in case there is a need due to illness or just even a need for a second photographer to help at a wedding.

Anyway, using just natural ambient lighting at the restaurant (it was fairly dark in there), I was able to capture a pretty decent shot of a table by the window. The intensity of the lighting outside was obviously more than the lighting inside the restaurant, but it only helps to create the mood of the dark atmosphere in the restaurant.

I took the color image and converted it to B&W. As you can see, it's just as powerful (if not more so) in B&W. By removing the color, the eye is actually more drawn to the main subject (the table and chairs) than the outside background. The point here? B&W can actually help improve an image's effectiveness by taking away the attention being drawn to objects that are in color. In this case, the only thing really interesting to look at in the B&W shot is the table and chairs... which is the main subject.

What are your thoughts on this? Comments welcomed!


Here's something you don't see at many weddings... bagpipes! This image was taken at a wedding I shot in November.

After mentioning the soft gentle music of the harp on a post recently, I thought I'd show you the other extreme. Ever hear bagpipes up close? Wow! These things are LOUD! Much louder than you'd expect.

I think this is just as cool as having a harp at a wedding. I suppose I just like seeing something different at weddings. It gets my creative juices flowing when I can shoot something different.

I wonder if this guy was a little cold being in that kilt in November? :)

If you want to see a cute picture of what can happen to a guy in a kilt, check out this site:

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Marathon Photoshop Session!

I pulled an "All-Nighter" last night and finished Photoshopping the images from one of the weddings I shot a few weeks ago.

For those who are not familiar with the term, an "All-Nighter" is where you stay up and work... or in the case of college students, it often means staying up cramming (studying) for finals all night.

Every now and then I do this. Not that I have to, but sometimes I get on a roll and just have to finish it. I keep telling myself, just one more image and I'll go to bed. But it never happens. It seems that one more becomes one dozen more or one hundred more. It never ends.

In this case it was something like four hundred more. :)

Well, it was getting near 5:30 AM when I finally finished so I figured I might as well just stay up and finish the CD labels and convert everything to Black and White as well. Besides, I had to meet a new potential client at 11:00 AM anyway.

Right now, I'm wiped out. It's not easy doing all-nighters! I'm actually nodding off as I'm sitting here typing this entry!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Hasselblad - Medium Format Film Cameras

On my October 31, 2005 post, I mentioned that the Hasselblad cameras were "THE" cameras to use to capture weddings until digital arrived. It's true. People would clammer to photographers who used these cameras for wedding photography simply because they produced the finest images that film had to offer short of large studio view cameras. But they are still big and bulky compared to 35mm cameras and today's digital cameras. I think anyone who's ever watched a movie or TV show and have seen where a studio photographer is taking "fashion shots" of a model will recognize the Hasselblad. It's a very well known camera that only professionals used due to the high cost of the equipment. Hollywood knew that and they exploited it.

Pictured above are my Hasselblad cameras. I have two Hasselblads which can easily be used for wedding work today. But I prefer to shoot with my digital cameras because they offer superb image quality and handling flexibility for photojournalistic work. Can I still offer film today if you wanted it? Sure can. But why would you want it?

Today, digital offers a huge advantage at a cost savings as well. With digital, there's no film expense, development expense, proof print expense, negative retouching fees and most importantly, digital cameras allow me to move quicker and shoot faster! Plus with digital, I can upload images to the web for all your family and friends to see without having to "scan" film negatives (which is another expense!) Today, I can quickly shoot 2-3 times as many images as I could with a medium format camera at a lower cost as well.

So does the Hasselblad offer any distinct advantages today compared to today's digital cameras? Sure. If you intend to enlarge your images to say 30x40 or even 40x60 sizes... then perhaps you want to use a Hasselblad. But I'd say most clients don't do this. Most will only go to 8x10 or perhaps 11x14. Even 12x18 images are so good with digital that I dare anyone to be able to tell the difference between a digital shot and a medium format shot.

So, if you want lots of quality images at a fraction of the cost of using medium format equipment... go digital 100%. Most of my clients do just that. But if you have to have film, I've got you covered as well.


"Boardwalk! That will be $200 please!"

Did you know it's actually quite difficult to land on Boardwalk?

When I was still in grade school, my brother and I would play Monopoly all the time. And I mean ALL THE TIME! We once had a game that lasted days... maybe even a full week!

You see, we broke the rules and did not charge for rent sometimes, just to extend the game. We had our entire summer vacation to do whatever we wanted, so we played Monopoly. But even though the game was typically longer than most any other games we played, it wasn't long enough to keep us occupied all day. So we just "lengthened it." :)

After a while, we got so good at Monopoly that we could simply just roll the dice and instead of moving our token one space at a time, we'd just jump to the proper space. We could count it out that fast. Then we started to get serious and played by "strict rules." None of this "house rules" stuff for us. It was "strict rules, or no play" at our house. We took it seriously!

And, we played fast! Roll the dice and MOVE! The game is way too slow if you have to count out spaces. Roll and move... roll and move! My friend Steve once played with us and I think he said, "You guys take all the fun out of this!" Yes... we are serious when it comes to Monopoly.

There's actually a book out there that describes the various strategies of Monopoly. Yes! Monopoly can be played with strategy. Statistically, certain spaces are landed on more frequently than others. Don't think that buying higher priced properties equates to getting more rent for you on the long run.

Did you know that having three houses on each of the color-coordinated spaces is required before you can even purchase a single hotel on that colored group? And, did you know that if there are no more houses left (physically) for the bank to sell, you cannot buy more houses and you cannot buy a hotel either? So strategically, you could buy up all the houses in the set, place them all on the properties you own and your opponents cannot buy any houses! And if your opponent has three houses on each of his colored properties in his monopoly, he can't build a hotel either! You could strategically lock your opponent out of buying houses or hotels by just not giving up your houses for hotels! Keep them on your spaces!

Rent increases dramatically at three houses. Take a look at your property card the next time you play. So the goal is really to get to three houses. And, you need to build evenly. Meaning you cannot put three houses on one space and one house on each of the two other spaces! You have to spread out that third house on one of the other two properties first. And you can't keep moving the houses from spot to spot in your monopoly. Once you declare the space it is purchased for, it stays there!
And yes... Free Parking is just Free Parking. No "house money" gets placed there for someone to win if they land on Free Parking! Who made up THAT rule?!

Don't ever play Monopoly with me or with my brother. We'll take all the fun out of the game because we are dead serious about it. Humph! Now I'm all worked up thinking about Monopoly!
There's no mercy when we play Monopoly! :)

Monday, December 05, 2005

"Disasters" and Other "Fun" Occurances At Weddings

I'm often asked what weird things I have witnessed occuring at weddings.

Sometimes I wonder why anyone would want to know that, but I suppose it's because people are nervous that something similar might happen at their wedding! Well, I can honestly say that none of my weddings go off without a hitch! (I hope you got that pun...)

Here's a partial list of things that have occured that I have witnessed. Not all are spectacular, but it may cause you to double check on things to make sure it doesn't happen to you:

1. Hairdresser messes up and causes the bride to re-do her hair herself. It also makes her late for the pre-ceremony photos.

2. Limo shows up... but at the wrong site.

3. Bride begs relatives not to "fight" at her wedding (literally.)

4. Bridesmaids faint from heat exhaustion (very common.)

5. Best man delivers "x-rated" jokes during his toast to the bride and groom. Gets boo'ed by the guests because of these jokes, but doesn't know enough to stop telling them. Continues on for several more agonizing minutes with each joke receiving more boos.

6. Florist shows up late to set up flowers for the wedding which causes all the pre-wedding photos to be shot without the flowers. (Note: This happens at almost all weddings. It might be best to stretch the truth a little and tell the florist that the wedding is to start an hour sooner than it really is scheduled to start... just to get the flowers there on time.)

7. Everyone shows up early to the church to get photos taken... only to find it locked and nobody has the key.

8. Flowergirl or Ringbearer throws a tantrum and decides in the middle of walking down the aisle to start crying and run back up the aisle.

9. Ringbearer trips on his way to the alter and puts a huge rip into the runner... so he stops and tries to fix it before moving on. Makes it worse...

10. Groomsmen write "Help Me" on the soles of the Groom's shoes so that when he kneels at the alter, it's visible for all to see.

11. Groom goes under the brides dress to retreive the garter but comes up with a pair of panties instead... to the shock of the bride and everyone in the room.

12. Groom goes under the bride's dress to retrieve the garter only to find that the bride is wearing a pair of men's boxer shorts. She then flashes the whole room by lifting her dress to reveal the shorts... much to the dismay of the groom.

13. Cake is smashed into the bride's face or groom's face. The receipient of this act is not amused.

14. Limo driver opens the champagne bottle in the limo and the cork pops the groom in the eye. Luckily, it just misses the eye but hits him closer to his eye socket instead.

15. Best man forgets the brides name during the toast.

16. Best man toasts the bride and groom but confuses the groom's old girlfriend's name with the bride's name.

17. DJ accidentally pulls the chair out from under the bride as she prepares to sit down to have her garter removed. Bride ends up on the floor.

18. Two flowergirls are at the wedding. The first one goes down the aisle and tosses flower pedals onto the runner and makes it all the way down the aisle. The next flower girl starts down the aisle and decides instead of tossing her flower pedals onto the runner, it's better to pick up all the flower pedals that the first flowergirl has tossed. Amazingly, she makes it all the way down the aisle and now the runner has no flower pedals for the bride to walk through... much to the delight of the guests who are now laughing like crazy.

19. Pastor asks the bestman for the ring but he's forgotten to bring it. He substitutes his own wedding ring for the bride to use.

20. Flowers are the wrong color and the bride starts to cry. Photographer takes her aside and tells her to "grow up" and to stop crying... explaining that only she knows the flowers are wrong and that crying will only upset the rest of the guests. The shock of hearing the photographer tell her to "grow up" snaps her back into reality and she composes herself (with a five minute -"time out"). The rest of the wedding goes smoothly and the bride later thanks the photographer for saving her wedding day.

Of course I was the photographer in number 20! :)

Sometimes a photographer has to take over to get things back on track.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Gary Avery - San Diego Police Department

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post.

I just recently found out from Randy Gibson (former Evidence Technician and now the Questioned Documents Examiner for SDPD) that Gary Avery had passed away earlier this year. Gary was my supervisor at the San Diego Police Department when I worked in the field services unit (Evidence Technicians) of SDPD.

Gary was the person who interviewed me for my internship at SDPD and was the one who made the decision that I would join his department to learn from all the great evidence techs at SDPD. He allowed me to not only do standard intern work (like dust for fingerprints in the lab or take photos of evidence in the lab) but also to go out on as many homicide call outs that I could handle.

Gary gave me opportunities that many other interns did not have the opportunity to do. He always encouraged me to work alongside the technicians as much as I wanted. Even though he knew I had a very heavy school load of 21 credit hours or more per semester, he did not stop me from going to homicides even if that meant getting called out at 2:00 AM. Not many interns got opportunities like that. He even gave me a bullet-proof vest to use when I requested one. I don't think ANY interns ever get that!

When he found out that I played guitar and made recordings, he encouraged me to talk to Randy Gibson because Randy played music too. Eventually Randy and I worked on a song that Randy wrote called the "Evidence Tech Blues" which we recorded at my home. Gary loved that song so much that he played a cassette copy of it for everyone at the lab. He thought it was really cool that one of his technicians and his intern could produce a song that really parodied life as an Evidence Tech. (It WAS a cool song...)

When the time had come for me to graduate and my time as an intern was close to over, he went to police chief Bob Burgreen and had a special certificate made and signed by the chief of police to recognize me for the work I had done for the department. He told me that no other intern had ever had this type of recognition from the chief of police. I don't know if he was just saying that to make me feel good or if it was the truth, but it really meant a lot to me. Later he and all the evidence techs took me out for a special goodbye dinner and presented me with a SDPD plaque commemorating my time at the police department. That plaque was displayed on the wall of my home in San Diego and still hangs proudly on my wall in Mount Prospect today.

Eventually, Gary went on from being the Evidence Tech's supervisor to becoming the supervisor of the Latent Print department.

I last spoke with Gary a couple of years ago when I called him to see what was happening at SDPD. Ever helpful, he reminded me that if I ever needed his help in anything or perhaps a nice referral for any work I was after, I could always count on him. I knew he meant it because he helped me with a nice referral when I landed my position with the Chula Vista Police Department and with the San Diego District Attorney's Office.

He was a terrific guy who will always hold a special place in my heart. I have truly lost a great friend and mentor.

Here's to you Gary!

Friday, December 02, 2005

New Business Cards

Yes, I know... it's not Monday or Thursday, but I thought I'd share the latest business card design with everyone!

This is Irene and Matt, one of my 2005 clients. I had a great time at their wedding and they were kind enough to allow me to use one of their images to help promote my business. I'll be photographing the wedding of Irene's sister Mary and future brother-in-law Jason in 2006 as well as Mary and Jason's friends, Amy & Dustin's wedding in 2006.

Referrals are a key part of my business and I'm very lucky and appreciative to have these wonderful clients! Thanks for all the referrals!!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

"How Many Memory Cards Do You Have?"

Here's another question I get at most weddings.

Usually at weddings, I see a lot of camera-wielding guests. Most today have either a digital point & shoot camera or a disposable film camera. For these camera buffs, the sight of the big fancy digital SLR cameras I bring to weddings is just too much for their curiosity so it's just a matter of time before someone asks, "How many memory cards do you have?" The second question we've already covered in a past post, "How many megapixels is that camera?" :)

I carry a lot of memory cards with me. I try not to use cards that are too large too. It's better to keep changing cards than to fit lots of photos on one card. Why? For safety reasons. If something were to happen to one card, at least only some photos from the wedding is lost... not all photos from the wedding. New wedding photographers often make the mistake of getting huge cards and not changing them often. Or, to save money on buying cards, they will shoot the wedding on a lower resolution and lower size setting to get more images onto the card. Bad move, bad insurance and bad quality. It's much better to take the time to change cards often.

Film has a similar issue with possible image loss. A lab technician could accidentally overprocess the roll or at worst case, totally expose the roll to light losing all the images! I've never seen that happen (except in school a couple of times from some students), but the possibility is definitely there. I've never had a memory card go bad either, but why take chances! Actually, I think memory cards are safer than film on the long run. Deleted files can often be recovered. Exposed film can never be recovered.

For my 2005 weddings, I used 1 GB "Compact Flash" (CF) cards and 512 MB "xD" cards. But with the new D200 cameras coming soon, I recently purchased a few 2 GB cards because of the larger sized files the D200 is going to produce.

In all, I have eleven 1 GB CF cards, three 2 GB CF cards, four 512 GB xD cards and one 1 GB xD card. That totals 20 GB of cards! Will I use all that at a typical wedding? Yes... :)

File sizes are very large with big megapixel cameras. You can lower the resolution and size but you suffer image quality losses as well. I'd rather shoot at the largest size and resolution offered by my cameras to give the best quality. I expect a lot from my equipment and my clients expect a lot from me. So why bother with the inferior sizes?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Another Fisheye Image

These images were taken at a recent wedding with the Nikon 10.5mm f 2.8 DX fisheye lens. The top image is the "non-corrected" version and the bottom image is the "rectilinearly-corrected" version.

Which do you like better? Click on each image to see a larger version.

The angle of view on with the 10.5mm DX lens is 180 degrees! Talk about wide!

"Where Is Your Camera?"

I’m often asked this question.

It seems just because I am a professional photographer, everyone thinks my camera should be with me everywhere I go. Now for some photographers that’s probably the case. But not me.

Why? Because I’m a WEDDING photographer! I’ve never been shopping and found a need to quickly take photographs of people who might be getting married in the produce aisle of my local grocery store! :)

But there are times you WILL see me with a camera. I have it with me at all of my daughter’s school events. I have it with me at most family gatherings as well. I usually have it with me at any special event my church is sponsoring. You get the idea. I use my camera just like you probably use your camera. (BTW, I could have said, "You get the picture," but that was too easy...)

I usually bring with me the same cameras that I use for weddings, but I do have a point and shoot digital camera besides my huge SLR cameras. I have a Fuji F10 which seems to be the Point & Shoot camera of choice for many professional photographers. Why? Because you can take very low light photos with it without using your flash. For the technically minded, it will easily shoot at ISO 800 and with just a little more noise at ISO 1600. And, it has a very low shutter lag (the time it takes to shoot a picture when you depress the shutter release button.) It’s got a large 2.5 inch LCD screen to use to frame your shots and review the ones you’ve just taken. Plus, it does great looking videos too. It’s very impressive for a P&S camera for under $300. A new version, the F11 will be out soon. It will add more manual controls to the camera, but will probably sell for around $400 initially (just my guess).

Actually, the Fuji F10 is my wife’s camera since I bought it for her. But guess who uses it most? Funny how that works out, huh? :)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Value... Can't Put A Price On It

"Wow... you're expensive!"

I've never heard that said to my face when meeting with potential clients. But I wonder how many are thinking that or saying that after I'm no longer in earshot. :)

Admittedly, I'm not the cheapest photographer out there. But for some reason, I do have a lot of clients. There's got to be a reason, right?

I've asked many of my past clients why they hired me. Many said "Great Value." Others said "Personality."

Great Value? AT MY PRICES?? :)

Apparently, after checking other photographers out, extrapolating the cost of all services offered, products given, and estimating future products needed, I actually came out cheaper than a lot of other photographers! I've heard this from many of my past clients.

What was reported back to me is that many photographers try to re-gain their lower initial cost by charging a lot for things on the back-end. Reprint prices are the number one thing mentioned. At $30-$80 per 8x10 print, it started to add up. Even the lowly 4x6 reprints were running in the $6-$12 range per print. Outrageous! Many of my clients who have their digital files given to them after the wedding get their reprints for as low as $0.16, not $6-$12 !!

When calculating the final cost of prints, albums, initial service prices, lower time spent at the wedding (some photographers offer 4 or 5 hour packages to "cover" a wedding) , I came out with the best value. And, they mentioned that I have a fast turn-around time to get prints back to the client (often around a month or so). Some others take several months to finish the work.

Here is a list of some things I offer to clients:

1. Choice of 250 prints or prints of "all"images shot at the wedding
2. Full wedding day coverage (often 8-10 hours or more at times...)
3. Low on-line reprint prices
4. Even lower reprint prices for the client for use in their albums
5. Option to receive all digital files in color and B&W so they can print their own images to save money
6. Album choices - also, not required
7. Experience since 1990
8. Constant contact with clients throughout the year via email, phone and Blog Site
9. Flexibility in handling requests in retouching images (if it's easy to do, I often don't charge extra for simple and reasonable requests.)
10. A pleasant deameanor - comes with the territory :)

Put that all together and I suppose THAT is the value my clients see in me and my services.

What's THAT worth to you?

Where Are The Harps?

It's been a while since I've been to a wedding that had harp music playing! I really miss it!

Now it's quite common to have violins, cellos, guitars, piano, organ, flute... but have you ever considered hiring a harpist for your wedding?

I recall being at a wedding in San Diego in which a harpist was hired to play music as guests were arriving. It was just beautiful. I could hear the guests all commenting how unusual it was and how much they enjoyed the music. It's definitely not a common thing to see or hear. The harp is so mellow... it really sets a wonderful mood.

You may be thinking that harps might not be loud enough for a large church. But today, harps can be amplified! I remember checking out some music equipment at a local Guitar Center music store and going into the sound reinforcement showroom. To my surprise, there was a harpist auditioning the latest PA system! I had been to many music stores in the past but never had I seen a harp at one of these stores! The sound of that harp through the latest Mackie speaker system was just amazing! It even got the attention of several of the local "heavy metal" musicians in the store. They just stopped looking at equipment and came in to just listen to her play! They were all very impressed. Now THAT is a major compliment, I'd say! If you can get compliments from these guys, you KNOW you are good! :)

So if you want something unique to set a mellow mood at your wedding, consider hiring a harpist! Just do a search for Harp+Chicago and you'll be sure to find some sites!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

New Cameras for 2006 Weddings! Techno-babble to follow...

I have sold both of my Nikon D100 cameras (they went VERY fast... one in a about one hour and the other in less than 2 days) so next year all weddings will be shot with new cameras!

Two Nikon D200 cameras will be the replacements and the current Fuji S3 Pro will remain in service. It's going to be an awesome combination. I was a little sad to see the two D100's go as they had shot so many weddings and events over the past couple of years. But in digital, advancements in technology have made it necessary to have a constant upgrade policy for professional photographers who shoot digital.

The new D200's will increase speed in shooting as well as give the opportunity for a "cleaner" file. You'll be able to enlarge your photos without fear of pixelization and noise. Low-light capabilities of the new D200 is also vastly improved.

Nikon expects the D200 to be available in limited quantity by the end of December. As a Nikon Professional Services (NPS) member, Nikon has assured me that I will be among the first to receive one of these cameras. NPS membership is open only to full-time professional photographers. I'll take a few months to familarize myself with all the new functions before shooting the first wedding of the new 2006 season. And by the time of the first wedding, a second D200 will of course be purchased as well.

The photo below shows the D200 with the optional MB-D200 vertical grip / extra battery holder. Both of my cameras will be outfitted with this option (I had a similar setup with the older D100 / MB-D100 combo.)

Nikon pros have been waiting about 3 years for Nikon to introduce a camera worthy to replace the D100. Even with the newer "consumer" oriented D70, D70s and D50 cameras, many pros opted to keep shooting with the D100. Why? Better build quality, more reliability and the vertical grip option (not available from Nikon for the D70 and D50.) Eventually, third party vendors offered a solution for the vertical grip for the D70 and D70s cameras. Not as perfect as the Nikon version for the D100, but it works.

Why not shoot with the big Nikon D2x cameras? Well, for starters, they are just too heavy for wedding photographers to use! Every ounce adds up when you carry three cameras and professional lenses all day long at a wedding. The D200 is lighter, but is still built with a magnesium inner frame for strength. In addition, the file size of the D2x is huge, which means a longer time for post production Photoshop work. This added time to work with hundreds of files means a higher cost for weddings. The most logical and economical choice for weddings is obviously the D200 for those who use Nikon gear for weddings.

The excellent Fuji S3 Pro camera will remain for 2006 weddings. To date, this camera offers the best dynamic range of any digital camera on the market. Designed almost perfectly for wedding and portrait photographers, the S3 Pro creates images that are very hard to beat. Often said to have a "film-like" quality to its images, the S3 Pro has awesome color capabilites and the ability to produce very nice images even in very low light. So dark churches really create no problems for the S3 Pro. And very bright outdoor weddings will greatly benefit from the S3 Pro.

Another nice thing about the Fuji S3 Pro is that it uses all the lenses that fit Nikon cameras! Nikon's glass has a long-standing reputation for excellence and Fuji was very smart to use it. Actually, Nikon manufactures the S3 Pro camera for Fuji, so the qualilty of Nikon really runs just as deep in the Fuji professional cameras! The S3 Pro is based on a Nikon designed body that was essentially redesigned by Fuji engineers. The image sensor inside the S3 Pro is 100% Fuji and only available in Fuji cameras. It is this sensor that has gotten all the acclaim for having wide dynamic range which is a quality often attributed to film-based camera systems. This is why many have said the S3 Pro has the most film-like quality to its images.

The combination of the two D100 cameras and S3 Pro camera worked very well for me. The new D200 cameras with the S3 Pro will be just awesome for 2006! I can't wait for the new season to start so I can play with my new toys!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Fisheye Lenses

Fisheye lenses get their name from their ability to see an extremely wide angle of view (like the eye of a fish.)

The top image is a typical fisheye view. The lens used was a Nikon 10.5mm f2.8 DX which offers a 180 degree angle of view from side to side. The fisheye lens will make objects appear slightly unnatural due to its extremely wide view and often straight lines will look curved (see the intersection of the walls and the ceiling.)

But with Nikon's Capture software, the images can be rectilinearly corrected so that the image appears more normal (see the bottom picture.) This will lose some of the extreme wideness of view, but it's still much wider than your average wide angle lens.

Fisheye lenses are great for taking images of an entire room. There's nothing quite like a fisheye lens.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


There are many ways to photograph rings. A very classic way is shown here.

The rings are placed inside the bride's bouquet and then photographed with a "Macro" lens (Nikon calls it a "Micro" lens). The selective focus in this particular shot is right on the diamond engagement ring. Because of the shallow depth of field (DOF) view, the wedding bands are slightly "soft" in focus.

An alternative to this method of shooting rings is to allow the groom to simply "hold" the rings in his hand. This is a lot faster way to shoot and it can be done without a macro lens as well. It's a little more informal, but it works.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"I'm Having A Friend Shoot My Wedding"

I know that many potential clients are now reading my blog. So, this post is for them...

I was just reading a thread on one of the on-line wedding forums I frequent about the fact that many brides will try to save some money by having a "friend" shoot their weddings. This is a growing trend today because so many people are buying digital cameras and thinking they can offer professional services to their friends.

Here are my thoughts on this: Intentions might be good, but execution might be lacking.

Having a new camera doesn't automatically make a person a good photographer. Anyone can go out and buy a camera but that doesn't mean they know how to take a good photo. Even with automatic functions to help in exposure, creative vision is not automatic. Take a look at some images that really grab your attention. There's a difference between a snapshot and a professional shot. Most people can recognize that when they see it. Unfortunately, most people don't know how to shoot that themselves.

Shooting a wedding is much different than shooting a nice vacation photo. Here are some things to consider:

1. Does your friend know how to pose people?
2. Does your friend have the ability to take command of situations when needed?
3. Does your friend know what to expect during the ceremony and know how to position himself to get the best shots?
4. Can your friend work quickly and accurately under pressure?
5. How many weddings has your friend photographed?
6. How many weddings has your friend even attended?
7. Does your friend know how to create artistic-looking shots?
8. Does your friend have backup equipment in case something fails during the day?
9. Does your friend have top quality equipment or just consumer grade equipment?
10. What type of lenses will your friend use for shooting weddings? Can it handle low light situations? Will his camera handle low light situations? Does HE know how to compensate for low light situations?
11. Will the digital images taken be fully Photoshop corrected afterwards or just printed "as is?"
12. Does your friend carry a lot of memory cards so he can shoot at the largest resolution and size and still shoot a lot of photos before running out of memory? How many images will he take?
13. Is your friend insured to cover liability and errors and omissions? In other words, can he pay for the entire wedding to be recreated in case his images are lost or don't turn out?
14. Is your friend familiar with the traditions and regulations of the Church or Synagogue?
15. Are professional Wedding Albums available through your friend? You can't find these in stores.
16. Is your friend familar with how to put together a professional wedding album?
17. Does your friend know what shots to take at a wedding?
18. Does your friend know how to create a natural look when using a flash? Or will his photos have that harsh "flash" look with all the shadows behind the subject?
19. Does your friend know how to work with multiple light sources?
20. How many actual photographs has your friend taken over his lifetime? How many are shots of weddings?
21. Will your friend know how to work with the other vendors you hire for your wedding?
22. Do you want to risk your wedding to your friend's ability or inability to do a proper job?

Here's a final analogy to consider: If you had to have surgery done, would you let an intern do it to save 75% or would you rather have a professional surgeon do it? Same thing with weddings...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Wedding "Formals"

What are wedding "Formals?"

The traditional posed photographs that are taken right after the ceremony of the bridal couple, wedding party and family are called the "Formal" photographs. Even though many clients want a photojournalistic coverage today, most will agree that they need to have some posed photos taken at the wedding.These formal photos are often the pictures that they will put in a frame and place on their desk or even get some large prints made (like perhaps 16x20 or larger) and put them on their walls. Besides, their family expects to see these types of shots done regardless of whether they want photojournalistic coverage or traditional coverage.

I tend to photograph most weddings in a photojournalistic style, but I do offer a fair amount of posed photos as well. Remember, I have been doing this type of photography since 1990 and back then, posed photography was still very popular. But as a documentary photographer working in law enforcement, the photojournalistic style is really what I'm most used to doing the majority of the time. But a good posed photograph can be just as nice as a captured moment done photojournalistically.

To help move this process along, I recommend that a "photo helper" be assigned. This can be one or two people that know your family well. It is their job to gather the people together to get their photos taken. Since the photographer doesn't know all of your family members, it's impossible to know if someone is missing from a group shot. The photo helper's job is to make sure nobody is missing. If a list is created before the wedding of all the group photos you would like to have and then the list is given to the photo helper, that person can gather the next group of people together while another group is being photographed.

This saves a LOT of time. Since I shoot very quickly, the formal photos can move along at a rapid pace. This is important so that your guests are not left waiting forever while you are having these photos taken.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


After posting something on Hockey, I thought it would be interesting to post something on Soccer!

Last year, the Palatine Celtic Soccer Club allowed me to shoot over 40 of their games as well as their tournament. I like shooting sports on occasion to sharpen my reaction skills and there is nothing better than photographing a bunch of kids having fun!

Besides offering just typical photos of the kids playing on the field, I also offered fully Photoshopped versions. As you can see, the original actually has another person behind Kristen (which is not her real name by the way.) But I was able to remove the other person (whose face has been obscured to hide her identity) and other undesirable elements. Then, I Photoshopped other elements to create a “Magazine Cover” and a “Trading Card.”

To shoot soccer, you need to have a long zoom lens with a wide aperture so that the backgrounds blur out nicely. These shots were taken with a Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 lens (for weddings, I use a Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR lens which is well known for it’s superior image quality.) Shutter speeds should be as fast as possible. This one was taken at 1/2000 second. This speed will literally stop the spin on a ball even when kicked hard!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Murder / Suicide - Warning: Very Graphic Content

"It was the bloodiest crime scene I had ever been to."

Ah, I see I've caught your attention!

Adding the warning on the title and a comment like, "It was the bloodiest crime scene I had ever been to" is like a magnet just drawing you in, isn't it! :)

Well, it is true. It WAS the bloodiest crime scene I had ever been to. I had just finished a long day in school and at the San Diego Police Department where I was training for my career in law enforcement to work as an Evidence Technician.

My school load was about 21 credit hours per semester. Yes, it was a lot, but I wanted to finish the schooling as quickly as possible. So a typical day for me was to wake up around 6:30 AM and get to class by 8:00 AM. Classes would finish around 2:00 PM and then I'd drive to the police department near the downtown area of San Diego and work in the crime lab dusting prints and doing photography of evidence until about 5:30 PM. I'd then drive back to school in El Cajon, California and take a night class from 7:00 PM until about 9:30 PM (can't recall the actual time...)

Well, after a long day, I just got home and greeted my wife and just set down my school books and then I got a call from one of the Evidence Techs at the PD. "Russ... do you want to go to a homicide?" Hmmm.... long day, I'm tired, haven't even said more than a few words to my wife... so I answered, "Sure!" :) What a glutton for punishment, right? :)

I jumped in my car and headed off to the police department where I was to meet Georgina (yes, a female Evidence Tech, and one of our best too!) We have one hour to respond to any call outs. So, I had to hurry as it would take at least 25 minutes to drive back downtown from where I lived. Luckily we were headed near Miramar (near the Naval Airstation where the famed "Top Gun" training station was) and that wasn't too far away.

I had read a newspaper article about Georgina when I was at school. The San Diego Union newspaper did the article as a human interest story about this female evidence tech from Panama who had gone to the school while she was working as a meter maid (I hate that term) for the PD. She later got promoted to being an Evidence Tech and is currently one of the lab's supervisors! Without a doubt, Georgina was one of the nicest persons I have ever met in my life and was very inspirational to me as I wanted to be as good as her in this field. We remain friends to this day, but it's been a while since I've been in contact with her.

Any way, we drove in the crime scene van to the crime scene and were told what had happened. Early in the day, the mother of a young 5 year old boy had threated her son and husband with a knife and threaten to kill them both. The father ran out of the house and went to neighbors to ask for help. The police was called and the SWAT team was deployed. Why he ran out of the house without the boy, I'll never be able to figure out.

Now SWAT typically does not just go charging into a home with guns blasting away. They have to assess the situation and determine the best way to access the home. Often they will use mirrors and other things to see around corners. Any way, after entering the home and looking around with mirrors, they saw the body of a woman laying in the laundry room in a pool of blood. Beneath her was the body of the 5 year old boy she had apparently murdered before taking her own life. She had slit the boy's throat with a knife before doing the same to herself.

We were to find out later that she had a history of mental problems and that the boy had just finished celebrating his 5th birthday.

When we entered the scene, we made our way to the laundry room where we were greeted by several of the homicide detectives. Sure enough, I saw the bodies on the floor which had a massive amount of blood all over it. In addition, there was a huge blood spatter on the wall. It was the bloodiest mess I had ever seen. Georgina had put on her "homicide shoes" as she called them before we entered the scene. She told me that she wears these shoes for work because she didn't want blood all over her regular shoes. Now when she told me this in the van, I didnt' think much of it. But after seeing this scene, I understood.

She also put on plastic shoe covers (so did I) just so she could walk in the blood to get to the evidence and the bodies. Yes, it's not a clean job like some shows like CSI make it out to be. It's a real mess sometimes.

Well, Georgina systematically photographed the scene and documented the evidence found as well. As I was just interning at the time, I only observed. But I was very impressed at the way Georgina handled the evidence and was able to separate her emotions from the work. Georgina is a mother of two girls and I'm sure if you just thought about the people who laid on the ground in their own blood, it would be very difficult to work.

Later, I asked Georgina about how she was able to do the work without getting emotionally attached. She told me that it was very important to look at the bodies as just evidence and not people any more. If you looked at them as people, it would be very difficult to do this job. I fully understood and realized that this is what makes an evidence tech able to do this type of work.

I forgot to mention that Georgina said a prayer in the crime van before we enter the home. As we were both Christians and have a very strong belief in God, it was very nice to see that even in work like Law Enforcement that she asked God to give her the strength to do a good job and for the souls of the people who we were going to see when we went inside the house.

That day had a major impact on me. I got to see a real professional at work, I saw what was the bloodiest mess I had ever seen in my life and I got to see what horrible things people can do to others and themselves.

I left the crime scene at about 3:00 AM and Georgina was still working on the scene. I had one of the patrol officers drive me back to the station where I picked up my personal vehicle and drove home and then crawled into bed about 3:45 AM. I got up the next morning at 6:30 AM for classes and started my routine again.

Ah, those were the days! Oh... how did I do in school with 21 credit hours per semester? I graduated at the top of my class with a 3.94 out of 4.0 grade point average, received an award by the Administration of Justice Department for best student, got an accomodation by the Chief of Police for the work I did at the crime lab and was picked up by the DA's office in San Diego as an investigative technician. :)

Now I shoot weddings....

(Edit note: 12/04/05 - I recently heard that Georgina has since retired from SDPD, so I thought I'd update this post with this information.)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Wedding Albums

Wow... wedding albums come in a huge variety of sizes, styles and prices. There are two major types available right now, matted albums and flush mount albums. The most common being the matted album.

Matted albums are just that... a mat is used to frame the prints on the page. These are the style of albums you've seen for many years. It's a classic style which utilize various sizes of prints: 4x5, 4x6, 5x7 and 8x10. You can fit up to four 4x6 prints on a page, two 5x7 prints or one 8x10 print. A typical 25 page matted album will hold up to (200) 4x6 prints. It's the most popular size album I have available.

Flush mount albums are the new "digital" coffee table book style of albums. They are often very dramatic looking because you can do full double page panorama prints which are actually glued onto the cardboard page making it look like it's printed right on the page itself. And, you can have other images placed on top of the main image creating a montage look. Just look at my post on Photo Montages and you'll get an idea of what a flush mount album might look like.

These albums are very cool, but they also cost a little more too.

Recently, I put together a new option of having two matted albums to house all of the prints I give my clients. One album is a 25 page Renaissance album which can hold up to (200) 4x6 prints and then the other album is a 25 page Renaissance album which will hold (50) 8x10 prints. It's amazing when you see two huge albums stacked one on top of the other! Talk about impressive.

The cost of these two albums with all the prints inside still comes out less expensive than a single 12 page flush mount album. Amazing!

I believe you actually get more for your money with matted albums but I do have the flush mounts available for those who prefer that style. The design costs and manufacturing costs of flush mount albums are things to consider if you opt for this type of album. They are definitely the more contemporary style of album, but it does cost a little more.

To see some albums, go to I've also created a new site for you to see catalog pages from the Renaissance Milano series of albums along with the various mat styles. Visit it at If you right click on the links you can download these to your hard drive. Otherwise you can just click on the links to see them with your web browser.

For those who are interested in seeing what an album that contains all 8x10 prints looks like, I have put together a sample 24 page (48 prints) Renaissance Leather album just for this purpose. It is a Matte-Black cover with a single 4x4 square cameo in the cover and has silver guilding on the page edges. Be sure to ask to see it at your album layout session! It's impressive.

Mondays and Thursdays

I'll be posting new and exciting entries on Mondays and Thursdays. So please check in on those days to see the latest posts! Of course, you are welcome here on any day of the week as well... :)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Postings And Other Miscellaneous Things

Well, after much thought and advice from others, I think I'll be posting on here twice per week instead of daily going forward.

This is now "booking season" for me (as opposed to "wedding season") and it's getting rather busy. 2006 is going to be a great year it seems for me not just with new clients who have found me off the internet, but from many referrals from past clients as well. For that, I am very thankful and grateful.

Also, for those readers who are camera buffs, Nikon has finally announced the D200 camera! It's now official and is great news for my 2006 clients as I will be using this camera for your weddings. Not to worry for those who are getting married still in 2005... you haven't been forgotten. The Fuji S3 Pro that I use currently along with my D100 (just sold one today!) will easily handle your wedding. The S3 Pro at 12.3 MP, is a larger megapixel camera as well (for those who think more megapixels equate to better performance.) In reality, either camera will do just fine for weddings.

The D200 will be a 10.2 MP camera as opposed to the 6.1 MP D100 camera. This should improve on images that will be used for larger prints, but most likely will not mean much of anything for photos printed under 11x14 in size. For smaller prints I doubt you will be able to tell any difference in quality between the two cameras. But being up to date is still a good thing so I'll be purchasing a D200 well before the 2006 wedding season.

Nikon expects the D200 to be available on store shelves by the end of December. How exciting! Can't wait! :)

Things I've Done At Weddings

I've done SO MANY different things at weddings, it will amaze you.

Here's the list:

1. Vocalist - I've sung at many weddings in the past.
2. Guitarist - I've also played my guitar as an instrumentalist at weddings.
3. Guitarist / Vocalist (Receptions) - I've played many wedding receptions with my band.
4. Photographer - We all know this one...
5. Best Man - Been there, done that...
6. Usher - When I'm not best man, I get to be an usher...
7. Scripture Reader - Best job at the wedding...
8. Groom - yes... I'm married...
9. Driver - ok... I didn't get to drive a limo, but I have driven my own car with the Bride & Groom inside.

I figure if I get one of those internet licenses, maybe I can perform wedding ceremonies too! How cool would it be if I did this:

Usher people into the wedding, stand up with the other groomsmen, play my guitar as the bride enters the room, get up and read some scripture passages, sing a song or two, perform the ceremony, take the photos during the ceremony and reception, drive the happy couple around the block, and play with the band during the reception!

Now if only I could bake the cake, do the flower arrangements and cater the reception while coordinating everything too, I'd be a one-stop vendor! :)

Monday, October 31, 2005

The Future of Film Vs. Digital

Well, here is a controversial topic! Film versus digital...

Film is almost gone on the consumer market. Digital is taking over. It's as simple as that. Many of the film manufacturers have already cut back on production and many others are going out of business. Companies like Kodak have shifted their emphasis to digital as well. Other companies like Agfa (a German film company) are going out of business. Still others like Polariod has had to make major changes to their product offerings just to stay in business. Did you know Polaroid now even makes portable DVD players?! What does THAT have to do with photos?

In the commercial photography world, film is far from dead. Many commercial photographers still shoot with medium format film (2.25 " x 2.25" is the film negative size) and also large format film (4"x5" and 8"x 10" film negative sizes) Film has a certain amount of lattitude that makes for very nice images that are not so "contrasty." It's great for commercial images.

But will digital even penetrate that market? In time, I think it will. Right now though, when we talk digital, most people think of it for use on point and shoot cameras and for things like weddings. Virtually every wedding photographer has migrated to digital today. The days of using medium format Hasselblad cameras for weddings is almost over. The Hasselblad was THE wedding photography camera for a long time when traditional-styled weddings were popular. They are very difficult to use for photojournalistic coverage because the cameras did not have the flexibility to move quickly (they are big and heavy). So many early photojournalistic wedding photographers simply used 35mm cameras. Image quality was not as good as the Hasselblad, but the image style is what they were after.

Today, digital has gotten so good that it rivals the best 35mm camera. And, many feel it rivals medium format quality as well. You see, the larger the negative size, the better the quality of the printed image because you don't have to enlarge as much as when you are printing from a small negative. Bigger is definitely better when it comes to film. Advances in film emulsion technology helped the 35mm cameras gain quality, but in general, bigger WAS better.

Today's digital cameras often tout 8 MegaPixels or greater. This means you should be able to easily print 16x20 prints that look very good. The megapixel issue itself does not guarantee quality as I mentioned in an earlier post on the topic. But in general, you can relate larger megapixels to be similar to larger film size. Bigger is generally better when it comes to making big prints.

You can't beat the instantaneous gratification you get when shooting digital as well. You know immediately if you've got a nicely exposed shot or a dark shot just by looking at the viewing screen after you've taken the picture. And you can decide to keep that image or simply delete it. Plus, to save money, you can just print the best images from a group of images and either delete the rest or just store it on your computer's hard drive or burn it on a CD-R. It's just so flexible.

So to recap, film is really on the way out for the general consumer market. It's just a matter of time. But right now, it's still very much alive in the commercial market with larger formats. And don't worry, if you haven't gone to digital yet and you are still shooting with 35mm film, you can still get film for your camera. But your days are numbered as more people move to digital. Film manufacturers will eventually realize the shrinking market isn't worth keeping up with. Just look at what's happened to Agfa.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


In soliciting for ideas to cover on my blog, one of my recent brides asked me how to shoot hockey games.

Well fortunately for her (and you), I actually shot a bunch of hockey games for one of the local kids leagues almost two years ago. I did this just for fun and found that a lot of the parents really liked the images I took because their little point and shoot cameras were not sufficient to do a proper job photographing hockey games.

I found that to shoot these games, you cannot shoot through the plexiglass that is often used to protect the fans. So, you either have to be in the penalty box (they don't let you do that unless you are a pro photographer...) or you have to go way up in the balcony areas so that you are shooting over the plexiglass.

This image was shot from up above.

To stop the action, you'll need to be at a shutter speed of over 1/250 second, preferably over 1/350 second if the action is really fast. You'll need to have a very fast lens as well, since the light in most hockey rinks is not too good. This means a lens of f 2.8 in maximum aperture. And, you'll need a zoom lens of at least 70-200mm or even up to 300mm in focal length.

Lastly, you'll need very fast film. In digital, you can just bump up the ISO rating (just like fast film). ISO 800 or ISO 1600 is a minimum.

So, can you shoot this with a point and shoot camera and get good results? Only if the players aren't moving around much. Otherwise, it requires an SLR camera with a long zoom lens and low noise ratings at high ISO settings.

Have fun!

Weird Ways To Send a Suspect To Prison

As I posted in a past entry, I've "dusted" a lot of items for fingerprints. But I recall sending someone to prison based solely on one special fingerprint I found at the scene of a burglary.

I was asked to go to a home that had been burglarized in Chula Vista, California. Several items had been taken from the home, so I could have started to dust for prints in the areas where the objects were taken. But I typically start by dusting the point of entry.

In this case the point of entry was through a bathroom window. This window was quite high up, perhaps five feet off the ground. For the burglar to gain access, he had to step up on something outside and then crawl through the window and then lower himself to the ground inside the home. Since it was a rather narrow window, he would have had to enter head first because you could not really "step through" the window. The only thing close to the window to help him get down was the toilet. "Hmmm, I wonder..."

I decided to dust the toilet seat for prints. To get down from that high window, I figured the burglar had to grab the toilet seat to lower himself down. Sure enough, I got a good print from the seat and submitted the print for the latent print examiners to compare against known prints in the NCIC database. We got a "hit."

That print sent the burglar to prison. I can just imagine other prisoners asking him how he got caught. What do you think he might say? "Uh, I left my prints on the toilet seat..." How embarassing!

If you thought that was strange, try this one!

I asked the supervisor of the crime lab at the Chula Vista PD what was the most unusual print he'd ever gotten, so he told me. He was at the scene of a bank robbery and was dusting for prints. While dusting for prints at the point of entry, which was the glass entry door to the bank, he noticed a smudge on the door at face level which looked awfully familiar. So he asked the tellers if anything unusual happened when the robber entered or left the bank. "Well, he bumped his head into the door when he left," said one of the tellers.

So, the supervisor decided to dust the smudge for later comparison. The smudge turned out to be in the exact shape of human lips. That's right... the guy "kissed" the door on the way out! In his haste to leave, he didn't realize the door was closed and bumped right into the door with his face and left a lip print.

After a suspect was found and brought into the PD for questioning, a comparison lip print was taken of him. Upon comparison to the lip print found at the scene, the lab supervisor (also a certified latent print examiner) determined that the characteristics of the lips' lines and "cracks" matched the suspect.

At the trial, the supervisor testified to his findings and the jury convicted the man of robbery. That was the first known case to ever have lip prints introduced as evidence at a trial and get a conviction.

Now if you thought telling the rest of the prison inmates that you were caught with a fingerprint you left on a toilet seat would be embarassing, how bad do you think it would be to say you got caught by a print you left of your lips?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Nikon D200 - Soon To Be Released

It seems every couple of months a new camera comes out to replace a model that has been on the market for only a year. It’s often a very short store shelf life for digital cameras.

But that has not been the case for the Nikon D100 camera (I have two). It has remained in the Nikon digital camera line for three years (I've had mine for almost two years.) Sure, Nikon answered with a less expensive model called the D70 (later upgraded to the D70s with a very slight improvement in features) and now the new D50 which is their newest entry level DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera.

The flagship model, the D1x was replaced with the D2x but not before we saw a specialty sports camera called the D2H (later to be replaced by the D2Hs). Interesting though, even though a less expensive model was introduced with slightly better performance (D70 / D70s), the D100 remained in the line until recently. Many questioned why that was the case. After all, it was more expensive than the D70, had slightly older features, and was, well, just plain older! But the D100 was built better. It had a stronger body, an optional vertical grip and shutter release button, and provisions for an extra battery. Pros that were used to the camera kept it and didn’t move to the lower priced D70. But they did buy the D70 as their backup camera. Interesting.

For me, instead of buying a D70 as a backup camera, I went and bought another D100 as a secondary camera. My logic? I was already making great photos with the D100 and having two identical cameras made it that much easier to quickly switch from one to the other. You don’t have to think about it. You just react.

I actually shoot with three cameras at many weddings. No, these are not backup cameras, but are utilized along with the main camera. I’m faster that way, although it is more cumbersome at times.

But, the D100 is soon to be replaced, after a three year reign. Rumor has it that the D200 is expected to be announced in November and I’ve already seen photos of the camera. How can that be if they haven’t even announced it? Well, Nikon “accidentally” had a photo of the D200 and its specifications up on their own website for a short time. After realizing their mistake, they quickly took it off the website. You see, Nikon is one of the most secretive camera companies and won’t let any information out until the official announcement date. So you can imagine their surprise to find that the leak came from themselves! But that page has been screen saved and circulated around the internet now, so it’s no longer really a secret. Even large detailed photos of all angles of the camera have been circulated.

Like many pros who have been anticipating the new camera, I hope to replace my trusty D100 cameras with either the new D200 or perhaps the next generation of the Fuji S3 Pro camera. The S3 Pro has a sensational image sensor and the colors that come out of it are fantastic. The body is based on the same basic body that the D100 is based on, so they function very similarly. Fuji is essentially a Nikon clone but has features and a sensor unique to them. They both use Nikon lenses.

If Fuji were to release an “S4 Pro,” I’d be very tempted to get one! But I expect that an S4 will be a LOT more expensive than the D200. So the most logical upgrade path for me right now would be to purchase two D200’s.

In preparation for the D200’s arrival on the store shelves, I figure I might as well let everyone know I’m looking for buyers for my two cameras and two vertical grips. But I won’t sell them until the D200 is actually ready to be put in my hands. That could mean December or January depending on supply. However, if you know of anyone who might be interested in one or two D100 / MB-D100 cameras with vertical release grips, please let me know. Both cameras are in excellent condition as I am very careful with my camera gear.

In the meantime, the D100 continues to perform and provide excellent images for all my weddings! If nobody buys these cameras from me, I am not hindered in any way as it is a very familiar camera to me and I expect it to perform as flawlessly as when I first bought them. Let me know if you know anybody in the market for a DSLR camera!

Photo Info: This image of the Nikon D100 was taken with a Fuji F10 point and shoot camera set on Auto mode with flash. The small metal plate on the bottom of the vertical grip is a Newton bracket quick release plate. It's not included with the camera if sold.